Despite the small improvements over the past five years, non-EU citizens still face more obstacles than opportunities for integration in Greece, whose policies only go halfway to promote societal integration. Greece scores 46 on the 100-point MIPEX scale, which is 4 points below the international average (49/100). Major obstacles emerge for immigrants’ education, political participation and access to nationality.
Greece’s approach to integration is classified by MIPEX as ‘Equality on Paper’. Greece only goes halfway to guarantee basic rights and long-term protection for immigrants, while support for equal opportunities is weak, especially compared to countries with a comprehensive approach. Immigrants to Greece enjoy fewer rights and fewer opportunities to integrate than in most MIPEX countries. Greece’s current ‘Equality on Paper’ approach encourages the Greek public to see immigrants as foreigners and not as equals.
A country’s integration policies matter because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes, belonging, participation and even health in their new home country. Internationally, immigrants and citizens in the MIPEX ‘Top Ten’ enjoy equal rights, opportunities and security and the public is encouraged to treat immigrants as their equals, neighbours and fellow citizens.
Compared to other destinations in the Mediterranean, Greece’s integration policies are weaker than Italy, Portugal and Spain’s, most similar to Malta’s and slightly more developed than Cyprus and Turkey’s.
- Labour market mobility: Slightly favourable: Non-EU legal residents in Greece have legal access to the labour market and general support measures, but little-to-no targeted support to improve their skills or their work situation.
- Family reunification: Halfway favourable: Non-EU legal residents in Greece continue to face much greater difficulties to reunite their families than in most countries. In addition to the economic resource requirements, non-EU residents face delays and restrictions for their family’s eligibility. If families are reunited, their status is as secure as their sponsor and their children have the right to an autonomous residence permit.
- Education: Slightly unfavourable: The Greek education system does not guarantee equal access for immigrant pupils to all types of schools, while little is done to address the diverse needs of pupils, teachers and schools.
- Health: Halfway favourable: Immigrants in Greece continue to face obstacles to fully access healthcare and health services. While greater health information and support is provided, healthcare entitlements and services are still uneven for different categories of immigrants.
- Political participation: Unfavourable: Immigrants in Greece have no rights to vote. One major area of weakness, Greece is becoming one of the most politically exclusive democracies in the developed world, excluding foreign citizens from the democratic process. Immigrants are not regularly informed of political opportunities, consulted on a structural basis or allowed to vote in local elections.
- Permanent residence: Halfway favourable: Many eligible non-EU citizens are likely deterred from becoming long-term or permanent residents by Greece’s restrictive language and economic requirements and its relatively insecure status.
- Access to nationality: Slightly unfavourable: The first generation in Greece faces slightly unfavourable policies to become Greek citizens, given the increasingly demanding requirements. However,. since 2015, Greece has taken a first step towards citizenship entitlements for children born or educated in Greece. Children of immigrants are eligible to become Greek citizens after the 1st grade if both of their parents lived legally and continuously in Greece for at least 5 years before their birth.
- Anti-discrimination: Slightly favourable: Non-EU citizens are poorly protected from nationality discrimination in all areas of life under Greece’s young and weak anti-discrimination laws. MIPEX identifies clear gaps in Greece’s laws, procedures and policies based on international trends and best practice (e.g. nationality discrimination, racial profiling, class actions and equality body powers).